November 5, 1998 | By: Randy Weckman

Blame one more thing on El Niño.

Kentucky's strange summer weather - great rainfall followed by drought, both caused by El Niño - pushed some spring-flowering shrubs and fruit trees into a fall bloom. And that will mean fewer blooms next spring, according to Bill Fountain, Extension horticulturist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"If your normally spring-flowering plants bloomed much at all this fall, you will see fewer blooms - and sometimes none - next spring. These plants will not develop new flower buds between now and spring," he said.

Kentuckians saw many spring bloomers blooming this fall, including lilac, flowering crab apples, cherry, apple and pear trees, he said, because plants don't know the difference between spring and fall. Buds that established dormancy in late summer due to the drought suddenly reacted as if spring were here with warm fall days, Fountain said.

In addition, some trees reacted to the drought by shedding their leaves. When the sun warmed the unshaded buds, they broke dormancy and bloomed.

"Next August, providing we have a more normal summer, buds will set again on these plants for a normal spring bloom in 2000," he said.

Homeowners selecting trees and shrubs to plant this fall may want to select varieties on their disease resistance to help avoid fall blooming due to leaf drop from disease, Fountain said.

"Kentucky county Extension agents have information on varieties that have resistance to diseases commonly encountered in Kentucky," he said.


Writer: Randy Weckman
(606) 257-3937

Source: Bill Fountain
(606) 257-3320